|Population:||35,386 (2006 census)|
|Location:||31 km (19 mi) north-west of Sydney CBD|
|LGA:||The Hills Shire|
|State District:||Baulkham Hills|
Castle Hill is a suburb in the north-west of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Castle Hill is located 31 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district, in the Hills District of the Greater Western Sydney region. Castle Hill is the administrative centre of the local government area of The Hills Shire and part of the suburb is located in the local government area of Hornsby Shire.
History[edit | edit source]
Indigenous history[edit | edit source]
The land that is now called Castle Hill was originally home to the Bidjigal people, who are believed to be a clan of the Dharuk people, who occupied all the land to the immediate west of Sydney. The best-known Aboriginal person from that time is Pemulwuy, a Bidjigal leader who led the resistance movement against the British forces, including sacking farms in Castle Hill, before his eventual capture and execution by the British militia.
European Settlement[edit | edit source]
The first European visitors to the district were Governor Phillip and an excursion from Parramatta who reached the Hills in April 1791. Their aim was to find new country for settlement and farming to feed the struggling Sydney colony. 
Governor King began a government farm there on 8 July 1801, referring to it as Castle Hill on 1 March 1802. The majority of the convicts who worked the prison farm were Irish, many having been transported for agitation against British rule, they were deemed 'politicals' and exiled for life, never to return.
The first free settler in Castle Hill was Frenchman, Baron Verincourt de Clambe, who received a grant of 200 acres (800,000 m²) in 1802. It has been suggested that de Clambe's house "The Hermitage" was commonly called 'The Castle' by locals, because of the Baron's noble status. 
In 1804, the convicts rebelled in the Castle Hill convict rebellion also known as the second 'Battle of Vinegar Hill'). Overpowering their guards and marching on towards Parramatta having torched a hut at the prison farm to signal fellow convicts at the Hawkesbury (which they either ignored or did not see). However, they were vastly outgunned and outnumbered by British troops. About fifteen to twenty were killed in the first skirmish at the western gates of the Governor's Domain. The main group headed west pursued by the Red Coats and a citizen militia under protection of Martial Law and posse comitatus. Where the Rouse Hill Regional Town is, it is believed a twenty-minute skirmish happened where more were killed.
Martial Law was declared across the whole of the colony and was allowed to cloak the activities of the military and their militia as convicts were deemed 'to be in a state of insurrection'. Martial Law progressed for seven days, throughout which muskets were heard to fire day and night. The government-controlled newspaper reported only 133 convicts were involved, but over 600 left Castle Hill in the hope of joining with another 1,100 from the Hawkesbury plains. The population of the colony at the time was around 5,000, thus the panic that beset the administration and general population. The Rev. Marsden, known amongst many as the flogging parson, put about his old story that all the Irish wanted to do was to rebel and secure ships to sail home in, but what they wanted was a New Ireland, a free and democratic home for all. Nine were hanged, with three left hanging dead in gibbets for many months as a reminder for all.
In later years the area became filled with market gardens and orchards which supplied Sydney. As Sydney expanded, the orchards disappeared and were replaced with a sprawl of suburban dwellings, retail and commercial establishments and light industry. The Hills Shire Council commemorates the shire's former status as an orange-growing area with the Orange Blossom Festival each year.
In the past Castle Hill was serviced by a rail line (the Rogans Hill line) to Parramatta to take the rural area's produce to the city. However, it was closed in 1932, due to competition with trucks and cars. The State Government has promised to construct a new railway line there which will branch off from the Strathfield-Hornsby line north of Epping. As of July 2005, the railway line there is expected to be completed around 2015.
Commercial areas[edit | edit source]
Castle Hill's commercial area centres around a section of the Old Northern Road at the suburb's eastern side. Its southern side is an older, traditional shopping strip, with the modest-sized Castle Mall shopping centre. Its northern side is dominated by the large Castle Towers shopping centre, with two department stores as well as two Greater Union cinema multiplexes (giving a total of 16 Cinemas). A new library and community centre, with a unit apartment building on its upper floors, opened next to Castle Towers in 2004.
Work has been started by the local council to convert the stretch of Old Northern Road between Castle Mall and Castle Towers, into a plaza walk way. The main traffic road would therefore be diverted through the nearby, Terminus Street. A $500 million plan to add 60,000 square metres to the Castle Towers Shopping District is currently being tabled by the The Hills Shire Council and, if approved, Castle Towers will become the largest shopping centre in New South Wales, with a total of 170,000 square metres of active floorspace. Work on the centre is scheduled to be completed by 2012.
Castle Hill also has a light industrial area at the suburb's western side. It is linked with the commercial area by Showground Road. The Hills Shire Council chamber, the Hills Centre performing arts complex, and the Castle Hill Showground all situated next to the industrial area.
Residential areas[edit | edit source]
The largest residential area in Castle Hill is located at the two sides of Showground Road, sandwiched between the commercial and the industrial area. Smaller residential areas are located at the east of the commercial area, as well as the suburb's north-east (part of Hornsby Shire, separated by Old Northern Road and Castle Hill Road). These consist almost entirely of free-standing houses. Several government and private schools, as well as an RSL Club, are located within these areas. To the North of Showground Road lies suburban Knightsbridge, with approximately 1000 homes, the Samuel Gilbert Public School, Castle Glen Oval and the Knightsbridge Shopping Court. South of Showground Road, and to the east of Old Northern Road, lies the East Excelsior section of the suburb, known for its leafy streets, mature gardens and established homes on large land parcels, which is adjacent to Bidjigal Reserve. Managed by a community Trust, Bidjigal Reserve is about 186ha of bushland located within the Sydney suburbs of Castle Hill, West Pennant Hills, North Rocks and Baulkham Hills. There are many walking trails, and three marked tracks: Platypus loops along creeks from the entrance at Excelsior Ave; Burraga follows creeks and climbs Bald Hill from Platypus track, and the Murri Yanna begins at Aiken Road or Heidi Place and follows Darling Mills Creek to North Parramatta.
Transport[edit | edit source]
The bulk of Castle Hill residents own private vehicles and travel to work using these, however bus services service the suburb. Castle Hill was once served by the Rogan's Hill railway line to Parramatta, which closed in 1932. There are plans to build an underground metro line through the suburb (the North West Metro) which would be operational towards St. James station in the city of Sydney by 2015, and towards Rouse Hill by 2017.
Castle Hill is well served by private buses such as Hillsbus and Busways, which offer express services to the Sydney CBD, as well as linking the suburb to other nearby major centres such as Parramatta and Pennant Hills and rail stations.
Castle Hill railway[edit | edit source]
In 1902, a steam tram line began operating to Baulkham Hills. The extension of the line to Castle Hill was officially opened with great fanfare on 30 July 1910. Major works were undertaken in 1922 to convert the line into a railway, and trains began servicing Castle Hill on 28 January, 1923. In 1924, the railway line was extended beyond Castle Hill to Rogan's Hill. Stations and stops were provided at Mons Road, Woollen Mills (Northmead), Moxham Road, Model Farms, Junction Road, Baulkham Hills, Cross Street, Southleigh (Excelsior Avenue), Parsonage Lane, Castle Hill and Rogan's Hill. As a cost cutting measure, the state Labor government of Jack Lang closed the line on 31 January 1932, amid much public protest. (See: Rogans Hill railway line, Sydney)
Education[edit | edit source]
- William Clarke College - Private Anglican School, K-12
- Oakhill College - Catholic High School
- St. Bernadette's - Catholic Co-Educational Primary School
- Castle Hill High School - Public High School
- Castle Hill Public - Public Primary School
- Gilroy College - Catholic High School
- Excelsior Public - Public Primary School
- Samuel Gilbert Public School - Public Primary School
- St. Angela's - Catholic Co-Educational Primary School
- Oakhill Drive Public School - Public Primary School
- Baulkham Hills High School - Public Secondary School
Health[edit | edit source]
There are several major medical centres in Castle Hill including the Hills Private Hospital on Windsor Road.
Culture[edit | edit source]
The Hills Centre for the Performing Arts is a unique and versatile Theatre/Convention venue located on Showground Road, Castle Hill. Opened in late 1988 and under the ownership of the The Hills Shire Council it is one of the largest and most exciting venues of this type in New South Wales. It is a world class concert/conference venue which includes full production facilities which can be used in all modes including exhibition.
The Powerhouse Discovery Centre Collection Stores at Castle Hill is part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, along with the Powerhouse Museum in Darling Harbour and Sydney Observatory at the Rocks. The Powerhouse Discovery Centre is the Museum’s off-site storage and collection care facility, located on the corner of Windsor and Showground roads in Castle Hill. The Museum’s unique and diverse collection of 385,000 objects spans history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport and space exploration. The Discovery Centre houses 40 per cent of the collection (by volume), or about 50,000 objects and is now open to the general public.
Access programs include monthly public open days (on the second Saturday of each month); themed supervised tours into stores on site; educational programs and workshops, tours for school groups and special-interest groups; school holiday programs; community engagement programs; regional partnership events; and specialist/industry and professional development programs. These provide insight not only to the Powerhouse collection but to the important preservation undertaken there.
The Hills Craft Markets are open the fourth Sunday of each month, except January. A variety of arts and crafts and foods are offered for sale. Children can enjoy plaster painting, music, riding and playing in the showground.
In late March the annual Castle Hill Agricultural Show is held at the Castle Hill Showground. This show dates back to the 1880s and reflects the heritage of the Hills District. The show is mainly agricultural with many sheep, cattle and horse competitions on every year. The Castle Hill show also includes novelty games and items, showbags and educational stalls. The show runs for three days over the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
Politics[edit | edit source]
In 2008, The Hills Shire (formerly known as Baulkham Hills Shire) ranked 4th amongst all LGAs in Sydney and 12th amongst the 590 LGAs nationally in terms of Quality of Life.
Notable residents[edit | edit source]
Notable current and former residents of the suburb include:
- Patrick White - Nobel Prize winning author lived at 74 Showground Road on a small property where he and his partner had a small holding. White depicted life in the then rural area in several works including the play The Season at Sarsaparilla (1962).
- Ray Warren - Sports Commentator, nicknamed "Rabbits" or "Rabbs", best known for his passionate commentary of Rugby League matches and Swimming championships. His voice has become synonymous with important rugby league matches in Australia, and he is renowned for his proficient ability to take over from fellow-commentators when anything interesting happens on the field.
References[edit | edit source]
- ^ http://www.thehillsdistricthistoricalsociety.com
- ^ The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollon, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8
- ^ "Rail Transport in Western Sydney". Government of New South Wales. http://www.westernsydneylibraries.nsw.gov.au/westernsydney/rail.html. Retrieved 2008-09-05.
- ^ http://www.castlehillshow.com.au
- ^ BankWest Quality of Life Index 2008
[edit | edit source]
- Castle Hill, New South Wales is at coordinates Coordinates:
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